People, Not Money - Sam De Mol The New Hotel Leader

Have you ever wondered why hospitality workers do the job they do?

Why do we get up at 5 in the morning to make your morning coffee and serve you breakfast?

What's the reason we do the crazy hours, the heavy lifting and challenge ourselves mentally?

It's not for the money, I can tell you that much.

Sam De Mol, the new General Manager of De Witte Lelie Antwerp, while only just starting his role managed to capture the idea behind hospitality during our interview.

The reason why I want to connect with the leaders of the hospitality industry like I did with Sam is because you will never hear any of them tell you they do their job for the money.

Sam has been working at De Witte Lelie for over 5 years and is relatively new to the industry, recently taking over the position of general manager in February 2020 (right before Corona times).

We spoke about what drew him into the world of small luxury hotels rather than the larger corporate hotels. He mentions that the ability to be more personal is the big attribution in boutique hotels while following with "the luxury felt here and the personal service, is our biggest trait." A number of hotel workers feel that small boutique hotels do and always will have the ability to curate the close contact service that sometimes can be missed in the larger hotels.

Being able to transform guest experiences and leave them feeling like their soul was listened too is why we do our job. When Sam was asked what made him smile at work, the answer was not when the payment went through or when a guest bought an expensive bottle of wine from the hotel. Instead Sam explains that what makes him smile is being able to make guests genuinely happy.

Don't get me wrong, we love naturally happy guests, but what we love more are those guests who arrive not in the best mood or a little grouchy. Why?

All hospitality people are all a little bit of people pleasers, we love the challenge and we WANT to do everything in our power to make you happy. It's in our nature, or dare I say it's in our blood. As Sam says, it brings him joy to watch guests over the course of their stay become more pleased as a result of our work.

During the interview Sam also mentions that his leadership style is more democratic, more mothering and nurturing. This is a common trait found in the smaller boutique hotels, less likely to have hierarchal structures and more flat ones where the biggest bosses get down with the dirty work. It's true, I've had general managers polishing glasses with me at 12:30am so that we wouldn't finish too late or vacuuming rooms because housekeeping needed extra hands.

The benefit being employees are more likely to view you as a leader, someone to look up too and in turn try to be like you. So future hotel leaders, take note.

One of the most important parts of the interview for me was that it is one thing to meet guests expectations, but its another to exceed them and realize what they need before they even know it themselves. This is something I truly believe in because it shows how our work can have an impact on guests lives.

Get this. If a guest you're looking after at breakfast casually mentions they love bird watching, I mean yeah you could just let it slide and forget it was spoken about. But what if you then go to the Guests Services department, grab a pair of binoculars and a local bird book thats lying on the table and place it in the room of the guests with a little note from you that you remembered they love bird watching.

What do you think they will remember when they leave? You! They're going to remember your name, the hotel and the moment for years. That's why they come back and if you want to be a true leader in the industry you have to understand this.

So what advice does Sam give to the future hotel leaders?

"Remember that the business we are in is and always will be about people, not money."

We do our job because we have a desire to make people happy, we have the need to have you leave us with memories and not things.

So Sam De Mol, thank you for your insight and drive. Future hotel leaders look up to you.

If you would like to watch the whole interview you can find it on my Youtube like at the bottom of my website or just click on the link!

Hope you enjoy!

Also don't forget if you need advice or would like to ask me anything feel free to reach out, I am always here :)

Tayla Maroun